According to a study by sociologists at Louisiana State University (LSU) and Baylor University, communities with a greater concentration of locally-owned small businesses have healthier populations compared to areas that rely on large companies for industry.

Specifically, lower rates of mortality, obesity and diabetes were observed in counties with a higher concentration of small enterprises, leading the report's authors to conclude that "a small-business sector is important for local development and that these effects extend beyond job growth."

"We often think of the economic benefits and job growth that small business generates, but we don't think of the social benefits to small communities," said Troy Blanchard, lead author of the study and associate professor of sociology at LSU, as quoted by Live Science.

Blanchard noted that small businesses are more likely to promote community health programs and activities, support local farmers' markets and turn to a community bank for a loan.

Approvals of commercial loans by small banks reached a 12-month high of 47.5 percent last month, according to recent figures from the Biz2Credit Small Business Lending Index.